Yes, yet another topic from the English grammar, but also one that you already know. Nonetheless, many of us err in using the correct determiner, and also jumble their placement in the sentence. Here’s the news: Using the correct determiners makes your sentence perfect!
So here’s the simple deal about this grammar- the words you SHOULD and MUST place before the nouns, are all determiners. The name draws reference from the concept that these words determine, i.e., make the noun clearer.
Types of Determiners
A determiner has many kinds; based on the sentence, and the noun phrase, you should be able to decide the best one to place. Without drowning into the depths of its technicalities, let us learn these in the simplest manner possible.
For example, I saw, ‘This pen.’ I have made it clear here that the noun, the pen, belongs to me. But I could also say ‘that pen’ when there is more than one pen in front of me, and I want to be specific.
For your benefit, let us break down the various types, and look at them individually with examples.
Indefinite Articles- A and An
You know, I know, and we all know that a noun cannot do without a prefix article. Indefinite articles- a and an, both determine the noun to help the reader understand more about the noun. ‘Margaret ate apple.’ This sentence here is incorrect because the noun apple misses a determining article. ‘Margaret ate an apple.’ There… makes sense now?
Definite Article- The
The use of the article ‘the’ is similar to that of its indefinite allies. ‘Blue car chased red car.’- In this sentence, you will notice something missing and incorrect. It is because there is nothing determining the noun. Therefore, ‘The blue car chased the red car.’
Much like the heading suggests, quantifiers enlighten the reader about the quantity of the noun. Words like some, many, a few, little, more, much, etc. and its like qualify as quantifiers. In this case, the noun should be countable or uncountable. ‘Isabelle knows every person in her colony.’ In this sentence, the quantifier ‘every’ adds more information about the ‘person’ she is referring. She doesn’t just know the people, but she knows ‘every’ person! That is specific, right? Then, it is a determiner!
Possessive determiners are: my, your, his, her, its, our, your, and their, and they aren’t the same as possessive pronouns ( mine, his, hers, yours, ours, theirs). One major difference between the two is that possessive pronouns need not necessarily be placed before a noun or noun phrase.
Here’s an example that explains how both are different. ‘This is my school’. Here, the possessive determiner ‘my’ is adding specific information about the noun ‘school’. ‘I think this book is yours.’ The possessive pronoun ‘yours’ is not before the noun according to this example sentence.
Yet again, the concept of demonstrative determiners is similar to demonstrative pronouns. But now that we know this concept well, it will be easier to identify the difference. The demonstratives are- this, that, these and those.
‘I believe that this is my bag, not yours.’ The determiner ‘this’ doesn’t hold a place before the noun ‘camera’ in this sentence. In fact, it’s job here is to modify the verb ‘is’ and not the noun. When we change the same sentence to use ‘this’ as a determiner. ‘This bag is mine.’ Now, the determiner ‘this’ matches the criteria of this grammar- it is before a noun, it is adding specific information, and it determines something!
Numbers is the simplest one of the determiners. Any number that you place before a noun like ‘one plate, twenty candles’, etc. is a determiner.
Everything you should know
With this, you now have fundamental knowledge about determiners, and you should now be able to identify them in a sentence. Once you get a good hold on it, you can read about pre and post determiners. Don’t forget to place your determining word right before the noun!
Some of the synonyms for the word determiner are argument, influence, determinant, determinative, clincher, article etc.